Books That Made a Difference to Ben Kingsley

In the new movie The Dictator, he plays for laughs. In real life, the actor likes his literature serious and thought-provoking. 
Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

368 pages; Picador
In the memoir, de Waal, a British ceramics artist, traces the fascinating narrative of his glamorous, powerful Jewish family, the Ephrussis—who lost nearly everything in World War II except for an exquisite collection of tiny Japanese figurines. A fan of the book when it was published in 2010, Ben Kingsley still loves talking about it. "Once, when I was in Paris, I met a lovely fellow actor and her husband for dinner. I asked if she'd heard of the book. And she said, 'That's my family!' So I brought it the next time we got together. She turned to the family tree, circled a name, and said, 'That's my great-great-grandmother.'" Kingsley still sounds pleased and a little surprised at his small-world story: "Sometimes I wonder if anything that happens is really random."
— As told to Lesley Gaspar

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